Verizon’s wireless chief explains how the carrier will grow in an unlimited data marketplace

The head of Verizon’s wireless business said that the carrier still has room to grow revenues even as the company sells unlimited wireless data pricing options. Specifically, he said it can do so by selling additional lines of service to wearables and other devices, as well as by setting the stage for the sale of additional services, like residential broadband offerings, from Verizon.

But, interestingly, Verizon’s Ronan Dunne said that Verizon’s move to unlimited wireless service also helps smooth out usage on its wireless network.

“One important thing to understand is that the nature of the growth in traffic in unlimited is different from what we’ve seen previously,” he said this morning at an investor event. “So, we've broadened out the time of when the network is busy, and we've broadened out the geos in which the network is busy. So, from a yield point of view, this is giving us an even better yield on the network and the network investment because we're selling even more of the spare capacity that we had in the network.”

As for growing Verizon’s revenues in a market where customers no longer pay by the GB for service, Dunne said the operator expects to continue connecting new devices to its network.

"We're still acquiring new customers and new accounts, so customer growth is important,” he said. “But what we're seeing is that, the participation in those accounts is growing. People are either adding more lines or more wearables, more connected devices. And I think there is plenty of opportunity there. The average household is significantly increasing the number of connected devices.”

Dunne added that Verizon remains on track to return to wireless service revenue growth by the middle of this year.

Further, Dunne hinted that growth in wireless will also come from other avenues: “That same investment is supporting a substantial component of the investment case for addressing the residential broadband market."

Verizon has promised to launch fixed wireless 5G services, selling internet service to homes, apartments and other buildings, in 3-5 cities this year. Dunne said the carrier is working to carefully select cities where its fixed wireless service—which the operator has promised will provide consistent 1 Gbps speeds to customers—will have the greatest competitive impact.

Moreover, Dunne said that Verizon’s fixed 5G efforts are just a part of its bigger 5G play.

"This is an integrated network and market strategy. It’s not like I have a network for 5G fixed wireless deployments, I have a network for mobility 5G deployments, and I have a marketing strategy,” he said. “It's one single, integrated strategy. So that’s the approach that we're taking. So, we're already assessing the markets that we'll go to where we're leading with 5G mobility and then we're looking at the optimization of the 5G fixed wireless opportunity. Because the core investment case is a 5G mobility case, to be crystal clear. Therefore, we would be deploying 5G mobility even if there wasn't a single city in the U.S. that gave us 5G fixed wireless.”

And Dunne echoed comments from executives at other wireless operators, saying that 5G phones likely wouldn’t become available until next year.

As for other 5G sales opportunities, Dunne pointed to smart city solutions, which he said could be addressed through 5G technology. For example, he said cameras and surveillance services could be widely deployed throughout a city and connected through a 5G network.